Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation to raise $20 million to get all kids reading by third grade
- Michael Linklater | October 10, 2020
Supporting children through early learning is crucial for future success.
I cannot imagine what it is like to be a kid growing up in today’s world. Technology is a big part of their lives and the way they learn. Many things have changed since I was young but what hasn’t is that each year kids are still not meeting the minimum standards of reading.
The Baltimore-based Annie Casey Foundation for children shared that, “A child who can’t read at grade level by third grade is four times less likely to graduate than a child who does read proficiently by that time.”
It is clear to me that the investment into a student’s educational success must start within the first five years of school.
The Saskatoon Public Schools Foundation realizes that students who are not reading at or above grade level by the third grade have a lower chance of successfully graduating from high school.
This is why the Foundation will soon announce a major fund-raising campaign that will raise $20 million to support students in achieving the critical milestone of Grade three reading in Grade three.
The Campaign will focus on 15 schools to achieve 100 per cent grade three level literacy in five years, beginning in 2021.
Four key initiatives over five years will include full-day pre-kindergarten, full-day kindergarten, Early Learner Tutor Program for grades one to three, and summer reading camps for grades one to three. The summer reading camps help reduce summer slippage, where students drop a few reading levels over the summer months.
My eldest son participated in the pilot project of the summer reading camp years ago. Physical activity was a major component to this project and some studies show that exercise prior to learning helps with the retention of information. When my son returned to school in the fall, he increased his reading level and became more confident in his ability to learn. He is currently entering the eleventh grade and has ambitions of taking post-secondary education.
Reading is a fundamental part of learning and it is a sad reality that some children are not reading at grade level. Saskatchewan ranks among the lowest in reading compared to other provinces. It’s time we put our support behind initiatives like this so we can combat this abysmal rank.
When we invest in our youth we are investing in the future of our province. I like to believe that I am a beneficiary of the previous generations who invested in me as a youth.
I grew up in Saskatoon attending a community school. The extra supports were of great significance to my success. I recall being “that kid” who struggled with reading. I remember very vividly being terrified when my teacher would scan the room looking for a student to read the next paragraph. I always did my best to hide so I would not have to read because I was embarrassed of my reading ability at that time.
The few times I was chosen to read I felt nervous of what my fellow classmates would think of my ability.
Some of my friends that were asked to read said no or would even walk out of class. Looking back, it all makes sense to me. Those kids probably struggled more than I did and felt so much worse that they simply refused to read.
It saddens me to think of where they might be today, knowing that 65 per cent of Canadians in prisons have less than a grade eight education. Then I think about the number of students each year who are not achieving the proper reading level and it weighs heavy on me. I ask myself, where will they end up? How can I help them?
This, among many other reasons, is why I have happily agreed to sit as one of three Co-chairs for this wonderful fundraising campaign. The money raised will help to support the students most in need, which will give them a greater chance at success. I believe it is our duty to help those most in need.